It seems as though administrators are now asking “How are you using technology in your classroom?” The push to use technology in the classroom has grown with the inception of tablets, smartphones and iPods. These tools can be used not only in the classroom, but the walls of the classroom can be taken away and children can learn in different environments. This includes outside! There is no better way for students to gain an understanding of tree species than with an iPad in their hand, walking through the woods and identifying the species with the help from technology. I would like to throw a GPS into this discussion. I enjoy holding a geocaching unit where the students learn about topography maps, latitude and longitude and goal setting. Educators need to be careful not to let technology get in the way of effective teaching. I sometimes see teachers get too involved in the thought of having technology in the classroom that they are not teaching efficiently or effectively. Let technology be a support in the classroom, not the teacher.
The term social media is everywhere! You cannot walk down the street, have dinner, watch a tv show or have a discussion without someone either checking their own (or friend’s) facebook account. I remember when FB first came out in college. It was right arounf the time MySpace came out. I was not very social at the time, so I found it a great tool to meet people in a particular setting. Unfortunately, it has become a bragging tool for everyone to post pictures of what they are eating. I have since deleted my account for the fact I do not find it professional to have a personal account anymore. You never know who will tag you in a photo and I do not check it enough to keep track and monitor. Can facebook be used in a school setting? Absolutely! We have a FB page for my school that I am half in charge of updating and posting. The parents and children love it!
I absolutely love Twitter. I started a Twitter account for the Athletics at my school once I was given the job as AD in July. It is a great way to communicate the successes of the student-athletes and upcoming events. Unfortunately, not many of the parents or students at my school are on Twitter. Those that are, have said very nice things about the account. It can be a useful tool to communicate with staff once we become principals as well!
I have never used social bookmarking myself. After reading about it and researching them, I find them helpful. I bookmark websites that my students can go to to do some research that are developmentally appropriate. I can also see how I could post a link to my blog or instagram for them to look at as well. This seems like an extra step to take to communicate to students, but I see the potential for it. As it relates to Webbs DOK, the sites are there for the student to work with so I would say it only reaches level one. What the student does with the information can reach level 4, but that is all in how the teacher uses the technology. In Blooms Taxonomy, level 1 remembering is as far as I can take social bookmarking. Everything is laid out for the student to follow so a higher level of thinking is not necessary. Creating a Digital Age Learning Culture in a school is vital. Demonstrating and modeling how to use sources such as social bookmarking can only help a school improve in this digital age.
I remember hearing about Wikis first in college and I was warned never to use them as an accurate source for information. Anyone can edit a Wiki at their will. This makes them very unreliable. I remember going into Wikipedia (possibly the most popular Wiki) and randomly changing information on various topics. My information was not accurate, but I was able to post it! I was blown away! For this reason, I am not a proponent of Wikis. Wikis can go under the evaluating process of Blooms. The student needs to filter the information on a Wiki to discern if it is correct. Digital citizenship is important and Wikis fall under this umbrella for the ISTE standards for administration. Level four (extended thinking) in Webbs DOK requires students to critique and analyze information. This is pertinent when using Wikis and find it appropriate to use this level of thinking when using Wikis.
When I first heard of Blogs, I thought to myself, “How is this going to benefit anyone?” I hear that there are ‘professional bloggers’ that get paid to Blog. This fathoms me. These professionals typically only have strong opinions for or against something or someone and they write about it and get paid. I cannot understand how someone could make money stating their stance on certain topics or if they liked the food at a new restaurant in the city. (Plus they can hide behind their keyboard and PC screen) Although I do not find this use of blogs beneficial to society, I think they can be used in a classroom setting to let students give their opinions on lessons or topics the teacher may be introducing. It is a safe environment that students can interact with each other and the teacher. I believe blogging is a very basic skill that only reaches Level One (recall) on the DOK chart. I also believe blogging reaches level 3 applying in Blooms Taxonomy. Children can take what they have learned and apply it to parts of their life in a blog. Blogging reaches the ISTE visionary leadership for administrators. Leaders need to communicate their technology plans to teachers and blogging is a great tool to do so.